McAfee this week rolled out SaaS Web Protection, a cloud-based security suite designed to root out malware scams and Web-borne threats without requiring customers to buy or install any on-premises equipment or software.

Now that cloud computing has become mainstream and one of the fastest-growing sectors in IT spending, McAfee (NYSE: MFE) and other security software vendors are racing to develop on-demand versions of their most popular applications.

SaaS Web Protection, according to McAfee officials, provides enterprise-grade reporting capabilities with simplified policy enforcement and controls that allow companies to set specific security parameters just as they would with the on-premises version. This on-demand suite also includes early protection and notification features from McAfee's TrustedSource technology that filters all content flowing in and out of the network.


Perhaps most intriguing for today's increasingly distributed workforce, McAfee claims this SaaS -- short for "software as a service" -- version of its technology can deliver the same level of Web security for remote offices and mobile users even when they're not behind the corporate firewall.

"Web filtering solutions have evolved from Website monitoring to serious malware defense," Marc Olesen, general manager of McAfee's content and cloud security group, said in a statement. "McAfee SaaS Web Protection incorporates all of the knowledge and experience we’ve gathered through the years, as well as the unique expertise and technologies gained from our recent acquisitions."

McAfee has already enjoyed significant success with its cloud-based apps. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company in February said it had signed up almost 600,000 customers for its suite of SaaS security offerings.

Along with limiting upfront costs associated with any new software installation, McAfee and other cloud vendors are preaching the benefits of simplicity. More and more companies, particularly small and mid-sized ones, are opting for the cloud-based security option so that their traffic is simply redirected to McAfee's data center for cleansing before being distributed through their e-mail systems.

This one fast-growing niche in the wider cloud software market is indicative of the popularity of these on-demand applications throughout the enterprise market.

Gartner predicts worldwide cloud services sales will surge to more than $68.3 billion this year and almost triple to $148 billion worldwide by 2014.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.